Posts Tagged ‘Gaza’

Flotilla to Gaza for the release of Gilad Shalit

March 21, 2011

Flotilla a Gaza por la liberación de Guilad Shalit

Publicado el marzo 16, 2011 por Silvia Schnessel | Editar



https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_192419080797889

cta.: BANCO SANTANDER 0049  4734  37  2116604690



This group emerges with the intention to mobilize a flotilla to Gaza  in order to demand the release of Guilad Shalit considering the scarce concern shown by the allegedly humanitarian organizations since it comes to an Israeli boy whom, for humanitarian reasons, we can no longer abandon  in the hands of the terrorist the group of Hamas.

Echoing the new winds of freedom claimed by the people in this area of the world,  we are determined to join the framework of fraternal justice and freedom so that no more kidnappings of this kind take place in the area.

The fleet does not intend by any means to exert pressure or interfere in the  government proceedings. In front of worldwide organizations and institutions we raise our voice so that their indifference does not silence us.

We need sponsors to launch the project and volunteers to make the trip.

Help us widespread and  raise supporters.


To cooperate with us you can:

  • Add the banner to your website or blog.
  • Help spread among your friends.
  • Join the group on Facebook and invite your friends.
  • Be a member of the flotilla (please contact us).
  • Help us find sponsors for this noble cause.


http://israeldefenceinitiative.com/forums/index.php?/topic/1588-flotilla-to-gaza-for-the-release-of-guilad-shalit/

“How Can You Defend Israel?”

January 4, 2011

 

Executive Director, AJC, and Senior Associate, St. Antony's College, Oxford University

I was sitting in a lecture hall at a British university. Bored by the speaker, I began glancing around the hall. I noticed someone who looked quite familiar from an earlier academic incarnation. When the session ended, I introduced myself and wondered if, after years that could be counted in decades, he remembered me.

He said he did, at which point I commented that the years had been good to him. His response: “But you’ve changed a lot.”

“How so?” I asked with a degree of trepidation, knowing that, self-deception aside, being 60 isn’t quite the same as 30.

Looking me straight in the eye, he proclaimed, as others standing nearby listened in, “I read the things you write about Israel. I hate them. How can you defend that country? What happened to the good liberal boy I knew 30 years ago?”

I replied: “That good liberal boy hasn’t changed his view. Israel is a liberal cause, and I am proud to speak up for it.”

Yes, I’m proud to speak up for Israel. A recent trip once again reminded me why.

Sometimes, it’s the seemingly small things, the things that many may not even notice, or just take for granted, or perhaps deliberately ignore, lest it spoil their airtight thinking.

It’s the driving lesson in Jerusalem, with the student behind the wheel a devout Muslim woman, and the teacher an Israeli with a skullcap. To judge from media reports about endless inter-communal conflict, such a scene should be impossible. Yet, it was so mundane that no one, it seemed, other than me gave it a passing glance. It goes without saying that the same woman would not have had the luxury of driving lessons, much less with an Orthodox Jewish teacher, had she been living in Saudi Arabia.

It’s the two gay men walking hand-in-hand along the Tel Aviv beachfront. No one looked at them, and no one questioned their right to display their affection. Try repeating the same scene in some neighboring countries.

It’s the Friday crowd at a mosque in Jaffa. Muslims are free to enter as they please, to pray, to affirm their faith. The scene is repeated throughout Israel. Meanwhile, Christians in Iraq are targeted for death; Copts in Egypt face daily marginalization; Saudi Arabia bans any public display of Christianity; and Jews have been largely driven out of the Arab Middle East.

It’s the central bus station in Tel Aviv. There’s a free health clinic set up for the thousands of Africans who have entered Israel, some legally, others illegally. They are from Sudan, Eritrea, and elsewhere. They are Christians, Muslims, and animists. Clearly, they know something that Israel’s detractors, who rant and rave about alleged “racism,” don’t. They know that, if they’re lucky, they can make a new start in Israel. That’s why they bypass Arab countries along the way, fearing imprisonment or persecution. And while tiny Israel wonders how many such refugees it can absorb, Israeli medical professionals volunteer their time in the clinic.

It’s Save a Child’s Heart, another Israeli institution that doesn’t make it into the international media all that much, although it deserves a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. Here, children in need of advanced cardiac care come, often below the radar. They arrive from Iraq, the West Bank, Gaza, and other Arab places. They receive world-class treatment. It’s free, offered by doctors and nurses who wish to assert their commitment to coexistence. Yet, these very same individuals know that, in many cases, their work will go unacknowledged. The families are fearful of admitting they sought help in Israel, even as, thanks to Israelis, their children have been given a new lease on life.

It’s the vibrancy of the Israeli debate on just about everything, including, centrally, the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians. The story goes that U.S. President Harry Truman met Israeli President Chaim Weizmann shortly after Israel’s establishment in 1948. They got into a discussion about who had the tougher job. Truman said: “With respect, I’m president of 140 million people.” Weizmann retorted: “True, but I’m president of one million presidents.”

Whether it’s the political parties, the Knesset, the media, civil society, or the street, Israelis are assertive, self-critical, and reflective of a wide range of viewpoints.

It’s the Israelis who are now planning the restoration of the Carmel Forest, after a deadly fire killed 44 people and destroyed 8,000 acres of exquisite nature. Israelis took an arid and barren land and, despite the unimaginably harsh conditions, lovingly planted one tree after another, so that Israel can justifiably claim today that it’s one of the few countries with more wooded land than it had a century ago.

It’s the Israelis who, with quiet resolve and courage, are determined to defend their small sliver of land against every conceivable threat – the growing Hamas arsenal in Gaza; the dangerous build-up of missiles by Hezbollah in Lebanon; nuclear-aspiring Iran’s calls for a world without Israel; Syria’s hospitality to Hamas leaders and transshipment of weapons to Hezbollah; and enemies that shamelessly use civilians as human shields. Or the global campaign to challenge Israel’s very legitimacy and right to self-defense; the bizarre anti-Zionist coalition between the radical left and Islamic extremists; the automatic numerical majority at the UN ready to endorse, at a moment’s notice, even the most far-fetched accusations against Israel; and those in the punditocracy unable – or unwilling – to grasp the immense strategic challenges facing Israel.

Yes, it’s those Israelis who, after burying 21 young people murdered by terrorists at a Tel Aviv discotheque, don the uniform of the Israeli armed forces to defend their country, and proclaim, in the next breath, that, “They won’t stop us from dancing, either.”

That’s the country I’m proud to stand up for. No, I’d never say Israel is perfect. It has its flaws and foibles. It’s made its share of mistakes. But, then again, so has every democratic, liberal and peace-seeking country I know, though few of them have faced existential challenges every day since their birth.

The perfect is the enemy of the good, it’s said. Israel is a good country. And seeing it up close, rather than through the filter of the BBC or the Guardian, never fails to remind me why.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-harris/how-can-you-defend-israel_b_801765.html

Since writing “How can you defend Israel?” last month, I’ve been deluged by comments.

Some have been supportive, others harshly critical. The latter warrant closer examination.

The harsh criticism falls into two basic categories.

One is over the top.

It ranges from denying Israel’s very right to nationhood, to ascribing to Israel responsibility for every global malady, to peddling vague, or not so vague, anti-Semitic tropes.

There’s no point in dwelling at length on card-carrying members of these schools of thought. They’re living on another planet.

Israel is a fact. That fact has been confirmed by the UN, which, in 1947, recommended the creation of a Jewish state. The UN admitted Israel to membership in 1949. The combination of ancient and modern links between Israel and the Jewish people is almost unprecedented in history. And Israel has contributed its share, and then some, to advancing humankind.

If there are those on a legitimacy kick, let them examine the credentials of some others in the region, created by Western mapmakers eager to protect their own interests and ensure friendly leaders in power.

Or let them consider the basis for legitimacy of many countries worldwide created by invasion, occupation, and conquest. Israel’s case beats them by a mile.

And if there are people out there who don’t like all Jews, frankly, it’s their problem, not mine. Are there Jewish scoundrels? You bet. Are there Christian, Muslim, atheist, and agnostic scoundrels? No shortage. But are all members of any such community by definition scoundrels? Only if you’re an out-and-out bigot.

The other group of harsh critics assails Israeli policies, but generally tries to stop short of overt anti-Zionism or anti-Semitism. But many of these relentless critics, at the slightest opportunity, robotically repeat claims about Israel that are factually incorrect.

There are a couple of methodological threads that run through their analysis.

The first is called confirmation bias. This is the habit of favoring information that confirms what you believe, whether it’s true or not, and ignoring the rest.

While Israel engages in a full-throttled debate on policies and strategies, rights and wrongs, do Israel’s fiercest critics do the same? Hardly.

Can the chorus of critics admit, for example, that the UN recommended the creation of two states — one Jewish, the other Arab — and that the Jews accepted the proposal, while the Arabs did not and launched a war?

Can they acknowledge that wars inevitably create refugee populations and lead to border adjustments in favor of the (attacked) victors?

Can they recognize that, when the West Bank and Gaza were in Arab hands until 1967, there was no move whatsoever toward Palestinian statehood?

Can they explain why Arafat launched a “second intifada” just as Israel and the U.S. were proposing a path-breaking two-state solution?

Or what the Hamas Charter says about the group’s goals?

Or what armed-to-the-teeth Hezbollah thinks of Israel’s right to exist?

Or how nuclear-weapons-aspiring Iran views Israel’s future?

Or why President Abbas rejected Prime Minister Olmert’s two-state plan, when the Palestinian chief negotiator himself admitted it would have given his side the equivalent of 100 percent of the West Bank?

Or why Palestinian leaders refuse to recognize the Western Wall or Rachel’s Tomb as Jewish sites, while demanding recognition of Muslim holy sites?

Or why Israel is expected to have an Arab minority, but a state of Palestine is not expected to have any Jewish minority?

Can they admit that, when Arab leaders are prepared to pursue peace with Israel rather than wage war, the results have been treaties, as the experiences of Egypt and Jordan show?

And can they own up to the fact that when it comes to liberal and democratic values in the region, no country comes remotely close to Israel, whatever its flaws, in protecting these rights?

Apropos, how many other countries in the Middle East — or beyond — would have tried and convicted an ex-president? This was the case, just last week, with Moshe Katsav, sending the message that no one is above the law — in a process, it should be noted, presided over by an Israeli Arab justice.

And if the harsh critics can’t acknowledge any of these points, what’s the explanation? Does their antipathy for Israel — and resultant confirmation bias — blind them to anything that might puncture their airtight thinking?

Then there is the other malady. It’s called reverse causality, or switching cause and effect.

Take the case of Gaza.

These critics focus only on Israel’s alleged actions against Gaza, as if they were the cause of the problem. In reality, they are the opposite — the effect.

When Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it gave local residents their first chance in history — I repeat, in history — to govern themselves.

Neighboring Israel had only one concern — security. It wanted to ensure that whatever emerged in Gaza would not endanger Israelis. In fact, the more prosperous, stable, and peaceful Gaza became, the better for everyone. Tragically, Israel’s worst fears were realized. Rather than focus on Gaza’s construction, its leaders — Hamas since 2007 — preferred to contemplate Israel’s destruction. Missiles and mortars came raining down on southern Israel. Israel’s critics, though, were silent. Only when Israel could no longer tolerate the terror did the critics awaken — to focus on Israel’s reaction, not Gaza’s provocative action.

Yet, what would any other nation have done in Israel’s position?

Just imagine terrorists in power in British Columbia — and Washington State’s cities and towns being the regular targets of deadly projectiles. How long would it take for the U.S. to go in and try to put a stop to the terror attacks, and what kind of force would be used?

Or consider the security barrier.

It didn’t exist for nearly 40 years. Then it was built by Israel in response to a wave of deadly attacks originating in the West Bank, with well over 1,000 Israeli fatalities (more than 40,000 Americans in proportional terms). Even so, Israel made clear that such barriers cannot only be erected, but also moved and ultimately dismantled.

Yet the outcry of Israel’s critics began not when Israelis were being killed in pizzerias, at Passover Seders, and on buses, but only when the barrier went up.

Another case of reverse causality — ignoring the cause entirely and focusing only on the effect, as if it were a stand-alone issue disconnected from anything else.

So, again, in answer to the question of my erstwhile British colleague, “How can you defend Israel?” I respond: Proudly.

In doing so, I am defending a liberal, democratic, and peace-seeking nation in a rough-and-tumble neighborhood, where liberalism, democracy, and peace are in woefully short supply.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-harris/how-can-you-defend-israel_b_803388.html

U.S. Embassy told to monitor Israeli leaders, motives – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

December 10, 2010

U.S. Embassy told to monitor Israeli leaders, motives – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News.

 

The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv was asked to collect information about senior figures in Israel, and to assist in the gathering of information on key intelligence topics regarding military and political moves, national infrastructure and coded means of producing passports and government ID badges.

This secret task, among the WikiLeaks documents published yesterday, is included in a telegram from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, dated October 31, 2008 – a few days before U.S. President Barack Obama’s victory and about two months before Operation Cast Lead.

Following the American failure to locate weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, in 2005, the head of the CIA was put in charge of human intelligence for the entire intelligence community, and delegated that authority to the CIA’s secret operations wing. Giving the task of intelligence gathering to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv could be perceived as proof of American spy operations in Israel.

The American agents were asked to supply information about Israeli plans for military operations against Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon and against Syrian or Lebanese targets, as well as Israel’s methods of fighting terror and the impact of reserve duty in the territories on Israel’s preparedness.

The American intelligence sources were also asked to report on how decisions on military operations, including retaliations against terror attacks, were made and approved. Information was also sought on Israeli contacts with Hamas and unofficial channels vis-a-vis the Palestinians, with or without permission from the Israeli leadership; positions of Israeli leaders, especially the prime minister (Ehud Olmert, at that time ) and his aides toward the United States, and on settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Other issues of interest included the possibility of development of natural gas deposts off the Gaza shore, prisoner exchanges, Israel’s interrogation methods of Palestinian prisoners and the emigration of Jews from Israel and their motives.

In another telegram, dated July 20, 2009, the head of the security department in the Defense Ministry, Amos Gilad, was quoted as telling participants in the American-Israeli strategic dialogue that he was unsure how much longer Egyptian President Mubarak would live and doubted the ability of Mubarak’s son to take over. Gilad also said the Egyptian army continued to train as if Israel was the only enemy, and that Egyptian-Israeli peace was tenuous.

Gaza Strip: Lattes, beach bbqs and dodging missiles in the world’s biggest prison camp | Mail Online

October 14, 2010

Gaza Strip: Lattes, beach bbqs and dodging missiles in the world’s biggest prison camp | Mail Online.

Lattes, beach barbecues (and dodging missiles) in the world’s biggest prison camp

By Peter Hitchens

Last updated at 3:08 PM on 11th October 2010

It is lunchtime in the world’s biggest prison camp, and I am enjoying a rather good caffe latte in an elegant beachfront cafe. Later I will visit the sparkling new Gaza Mall, and then eat an excellent beef stroganoff in an elegant restaurant.

Perhaps it is callous of me to be so self-indulgent, but I think I at least deserve the coffee. I would be having a stiff drink instead, if only the ultra-Islamic regime hadn’t banned alcohol with a harsh and heavy hand.

Just an hour ago I was examining a 90ft-deep smuggling tunnel, leading out of the Gaza Strip and into Egypt. This excavation, within sight of Egyptian border troops who are supposed to stop such things, is – unbelievably – officially licensed by the local authority as a ‘trading project’ (registration fee £1,600).

Tale of two cities: Gaza's sparkling new shopping mall offers a stark contrast to the images of slums we are used to

Tale of two cities: Gaza’s sparkling new shopping mall offers a stark contrast to the images of slums we are used to

It was until recently used for the import of cattle, chocolate and motorcycles (though not, its owner insists, for munitions or people) and at its peak earned more than £30,000 a day in fees.

But business has collapsed because the Israelis have relaxed many of their restrictions on imports, and most such tunnels are going out of business. While I was there I heard the whine of Israeli drones and the thunder of jet bombers far overhead.

Then, worryingly soon after I left, the area was pulverised with high explosive. I don’t know if the Israeli air force waited for me to leave, or just walloped the tunnels anyway.

The Jewish state’s grasp of basic public relations is notoriously bad. But the Israeli authorities certainly know I am here. I am one of only four people who crossed into the world’s most misrepresented location this morning.

Don’t, please, accuse of me of complacency or denying the truth. I do not pretend to know everything about Gaza. I don’t think it is a paradise, or remotely normal. But I do know for certain what I saw and heard.

 

The new Gaza Mall

The new Gaza Mall

There are dispiriting slums that should have been cleared decades ago, people living on the edge of subsistence. There is danger. And most of the people cannot get out.

But it is a lot more complicated, and a lot more interesting, than that. In fact, the true state of the Gaza Strip, and of the West Bank of the Jordan, is so full of paradoxes and surprises that most news coverage of the Middle East finds it easier to concentrate on the obvious, and leave out the awkward bits.

Which is why, in my view, politicians and public alike have been herded down a dead end that serves only propagandists and cynics, and leaves the people of this beautiful, important part of the world suffering needlessly.

For instance, our Prime Minister, David Cameron, recently fawned on his Islamist hosts in Turkey by stating Gaza was a ‘prison camp’. This phrase is the official line of the well-funded Arab and Muslim lobby, who want to make sure Israel is seen by the world as a villainous oppressor.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1319157/Gaza-Strip-Lattes-beach-bbqs-dodging-missiles-worlds-biggest-prison-camp.html#ixzz12Mt3zbFw

German faked conversion to board ‘Jewish’ Gaza boat

October 10, 2010

http://goo.gl/DI8j

By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL
10/08/2010 03:01

Television producers face flak for false report, say “not customary to pressure people to produce conversion documents before interviews.”

Talkbacks (6)

BERLIN – The German passenger aboard the Irene catamaran that tried to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza last month appears to have invented her conversion to Judaism, Berlin’s Der Tagesspiegel newspaper reported on Tuesday.

“Edith Lutz is definitely a Jew, like a smoked pork chop is kosher,” reporter Henryk M.Broder wrote.

The Irene, organized by the British NGO Jews for Justice for Palestinians, supposedly carried a total of nine passengers and crew members, all Jews, to show that not all Jews supported Israel’s Gaza policies. The Israel Navy diverted it to Ashdod Port.

According to the Tagesspiegel report, the German Jewish psychologist Dr. Rolf Verleger asked Lutz if she formally converted to Judaism, and she “did not dispel the suspicion” that she is not Jewish.

The German television program ARD-Magazin Monitor broadcast a widely-seen report in June, in which Lutz was named as a representative of “Jews from Germany”, and as part of a group of Germans Jews who want to show that “they are not in agreement with the policies of Israel.”

Monitor’s producers have been accused of sloppy journalism for failing to diligently factcheck Lutz’s credentials as a converted Jew, and turning her into a representative of Germany’s 106,000 Jews.

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily on Wednesday termed the Monitor report “embarrassing” and noted that many German news organizations have paraded Lutz as a “prominent spokesperson for the organization ‘Jews for a Just Peace in the Middle East’ – and she is not a Jew.”

Sonia Seymour Mikich, the editor-in-chief of Monitor, seemed to duck the criticisms in a statement on why the program presented a woman masquerading as a converted Jew.

It “is not customary for Monitor to pressure people to produce baptismal and conversion documents in order to conduct interviews”, she wrote.

Mikich further noted that Lutz wishes to “continue to protect her private life.”

Many German journalists devote a great deal of coverage to fringe Jews who bash the Jewish state.

The popular pro-Israeli blogger website Lizas Welt wrote on Tuesday that Lutz’s tirades against Israel are “what the majority in Germany wants to hear.”

Lizas Welt slammed Lutz’s “verbal attacks on Israel” as including equating the Jewish state’s actions with those of the Nazis.

Lutz has stated that the Israeli government issued her passport without a “deportation stamp.” The word “deportation” in a German context carries a Nazi-era connotation from the time when Europe’s Jews were deported to extermination camps.

Nathan Gelbart, the Berlin-based attorney who heads the German branch of Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that “over 7 million people live in Israel’s democracy, which, in contrast to their more than 30 million Arab neighbors, are allowed to openly discuss the controversy surrounding the appropriateness of the sea blockade of Gaza. And Israelis openly discuss the blockade.

“Edith Lutz, whether Jew or non-Jew, is needed in Israel as much as her three backpacks that she sought to bring to Gaza – that is to say, not at all.”

According to a report from Ulrich Sahm, a veteran journalist in Israel, Lutz brought three backpacks that contained stuffed animals, second hand toys and musical instruments on the Irene.

Norway: Israel-bound subs banned from testing in our waters – Israel News, Ynetnews

October 1, 2010

Norway: Israel-bound subs banned from testing in our waters – Israel News, Ynetnews.

Norway: Israel-bound subs banned from testing in our waters

Scandinavian country tells German company building submarines for Israel it can no longer test them in its territory; local media say measure from Israeli Navy’s role in enforcing Gaza blockade

Ynet

Published: 10.01.10, 09:26 / Israel News
Norway has informed German shipbuilding company Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) that it will no longer be allowed to test Israel-bound submarines in its territorial waters as part of the country’s ban on security exports to Israel, local media reported this week.

Reports said the decision stems from the Israeli navy’s role in enforcing the blockade of Gaza.

Strained Ties
40% of Norwegians: Ban Israeli products  / AFP
Survey conducted two days after deadly Navy raid shows 9.5% of respondents already boycotting Israeli products, while 33.5% would like to. Head of country’s Socialist Left party calls on international community to boycott arms trade with Jewish state
Full Story

According to an agreement signed in 2006, in early 2011 the Israeli navy is due to receive one improved Dolphin submarine built by HDW, which is based in the German city of Kiel. Israel is scheduled to receive another one in 2012.

HDW leases a Norwegian submarine base to test its new submarines.

The Israeli navy has been using three Dolphin submarines for the past decade. The submarines were built in Germany in the late 1990s.

Apart from their surveillance and intelligence gathering capabilities, Dolphin submarines can sink enemy vessels using torpedoes and Harpoon missiles.

In addition, foreign media report that the submarines are equipped with strategic cruise missiles with a range of 1,500 kilometers (about 932 miles), and can also be armed with nuclear warheads.

Gaza water park burned down after shut down by Hamas

September 21, 2010

http://pinia-colada.blogspot.com/

By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
09/19/2010 17:15

Unidentified gunmen set fire to “Crazy Water” park closed for allowing mixed bathing; witnesses say at least 25 assailants took part.

Unidentified gunmen on Sunday set fore to Crazy Water Park, one of the Gaza Strip’s most popular entertainment sites. Eyewitnesses said that at least 25 assailants participated in the pre-dawn attack. The gunmen beat the two night watchmen, bound their hands and confiscated their mobile phones before setting the complex on fire, they said.

Manager Ala al-A’raj said that the water park was closed down by Hamas two weeks ago. He said that no one was injured in the attack, which destroyed the resort completely.
No group claimed responsibility for the arson and the Hamas government, which issued a strong condemnation, promised to pursue the perpetrators and bring them to trial.
Two human rights organizations also condemned the torching of Crazy Water Park and called for an immediate investigation.

“The attackers stormed the resort using a four-wheel drive vehicle,” one of the guards told a human rights group. “They along with another group of gunmen, set fire to the two main buildings, Beduin tents and 300 nargilas [water pipes].”

Last week the Hamas government ordered the closure of Crazy Water Park for three weeks under the pretext that the place did not have a proper license.
Last month Hamas policemen raided the resort and expelled dozens of men and women who had gathered for a fast-breaking meal during Ramadan. The owner of the site was summoned for questioning and warned not to hold events where men and women sit together.


Sources in the Gaza Strip said that Hamas has been targeting the water park because the owners violated an order banning women from smoking the nargila in public places.

Last week the Hamas authorities closed down the Sama sea-side restaurant in Gaza City where a woman was seen smoking the nargila.

Human rights activists said that Hamas has recently stepped up its efforts to impose strict Islamic teachings in the Gaza Strip.
They noted that last week Hamas closed down the Aseel Horse Club, also under the pretext that it was operating without a proper license.
Hamas policemen also raided the Beach Hotel and handed the owner an order closing it down for three days. The decision was taken because one of the hotel restaurants had allowed a woman to smoke the nargila.

Two weeks ago Hamas policemen also stormed two halls in Gaza City where cultural events were taking place and kicked out the guests. The owners of the halls were requested to sign a document pledging that they would not host such events in the future.

Ehab Ghissin, spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Interior, condemned the attack on Crazy Water Park, describing it as a “criminal case.” He vowed that Hamas would do its utmost to capture the culprits. He added that the resort had been closed down because of “violations against the law,” but did not elaborate.

http://www.jihadwatch.org/2010/09/gaza-intrepid-mujahedin-show-an-amusement-park-whos-boss.html

=================================
Gaza: Intrepid mujahedin show an amusement park who’s boss

Khomeini’s words ring true for Gaza: “Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious.”

The primary grievance in this case was the mixing of the genders, along with women being allowed to smoke water pipes. Just for that, the whole thing had to burn.
Priorities. “Gaza water park burned down after shut down by Hamas,” by Khaled Abu Toameh for the Jerusalem Post, September 19:
Unidentified gunmen on Sunday set fore to Crazy Water Park, one of the Gaza Strip’s most popular entertainment sites.
And you may ask yourself: the “world’s biggest concentration camp,” as the propaganda goes (despite the briskly economic growth, full markets, and luxury goods), has had a water park?
Eyewitnesses said that at least 25 assailants participated in the pre-dawn attack. The gunmen beat the two night watchmen, bound their hands and confiscated their mobile phones before setting the complex on fire, they said.
Manager Ala al-A’raj said that the water park was closed down by Hamas two weeks ago. He said that no one was injured in the attack, which destroyed the resort completely.
No group claimed responsibility for the arson and the Hamas government, which issued a strong condemnation, promised to pursue the perpetrators and bring them to trial.
Two human rights organizations also condemned the torching of Crazy Water Park and called for an immediate investigation.
“The attackers stormed the resort using a four-wheel drive vehicle,” one of the guards told a human rights group. “They along with another group of gunmen, set fire to the two main buildings, Beduin tents and 300 nargilas [water pipes].”
Last week the Hamas government ordered the closure of Crazy Water Park for three weeks under the pretext that the place did not have a proper license.
Last month Hamas policemen raided the resort and expelled dozens of men and women who had gathered for a fast-breaking meal during Ramadan. The owner of the site was summoned for questioning and warned not to hold events where men and women sit together.
Sources in the Gaza Strip said that Hamas has been targeting the water park because the owners violated an order banning women from smoking the nargila in public places.
Last week the Hamas authorities closed down the Sama sea-side restaurant in Gaza City where a woman was seen smoking the nargila.


Human rights activists said that Hamas has recently stepped up its efforts to impose strict Islamic teachings in the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu to consider peace deal referendum

September 21, 2010

Netanyahu to consider peace deal referendum

PM says any agreement with Palestinians to be submitted for voters’ approval, promises to favorably consider referendum; Netanyahu vows to respond harshly to Gaza rocket attacks, reiterates demand for recognition of Jewish state

Attila Somfalvi

Published: 09.21.10, 18:29 / Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuhe said he would favorably consider a national referendum before finalizing any agreement with the Palestinians during a tour of the Gaza vicinity communities Tuesday.

“It’s clear to me that any agreement I secure would be presented to the people to decide, and there are several methods for that,” he said in Sderot. “Such decision requires a national verdict, and I therefore said I would consider it (a referendum.)”

Peace Talks
US to Palestinians: Don’t attack Netanyahu / Ali Waked
Senior US officials urge Palestinians to refrain from personal attacks on Bibi, PA official says
Full Story

The prime minister, who also visited Ashkelon, warned Hamas against firing at Israeli communities.

“Our prime commitment is security, and I suggest that Hamas and the other organizations refrain from testing our resolve to respond to the fire,” he said, arguing that the equation he presented on the matter prompted a reduction in the number of rocket attacks.

“I determined that fire (from Gaza) will meet a rapid response, and this brings down the number of missiles,” he said. “There was fire recently, and we responded and hit Hamas targets, including a senior Hamas figure. We shall continue with this policy.”

Netanyahu also stressed his unwavering commitment to the residents of Ashkelon who continue to live under the missile threat.

‘Recognize the Jewish state’

A day after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas cynically dismissed calls to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Netanyahu reiterated the demand: “The Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state, and the fact they haven’t done so raises doubts. I’m saying to Abbas – recognize the Jewish state.”

Meanwhile, the PM avoided an answer about the settlement construction freeze and whether it would be extended, saying: “Ask me again on Monday.” He also refused to respond to a question about whether Jonathan Pollard’s release was conditioned upon extending the freeze.

“We are aiming to secure his release, regardless of the freeze,” he said. “There is no need for a special event to bring up the Pollard issue.”

Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin thanked Netanyahu for his support but also reminded him of the recent rocket attacks. “Since Operation Cast Lead four Grad missiles have landed in the city, including inside a school,” he said.

Qassam attacks against Israel continued in the past week. On Monday, a Qassam rocket landed in the Eshkol Regional Council and last Thursday nine mortar shells and rockets were fired at Israel. The IDF responded by attacking weapons caches in the Gaza Strip.

Shmulik Hadad contributed to the story

British military hero Richard Kemp explains why he defended Israel, challenged Goldstone Report

September 18, 2010

Modi Kreitman

Published: 09.16.10, 19:13 / Israel News

LONDON – As almost every Israeli knows, public relations are one of the country’s main worries. But surprisingly, the man who has given Israel one of its biggest PR boosts is a British man with a medal of honor from the Queen of England.

Colonel Richard Kemp, 51, served in the British army for 30 years. During his time there he commanded the British forces in Afghanistan, served in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, and Macedonia, participated in the Gulf War, and specialized in anti-terror warfare.

Two Sides
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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon introduces results of Israeli, Palestinian investigations into alleged war crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead, with no input from Hamas
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Kemp’s distinguished resume also includes membership on the exclusive COBRA council, a crisis response committee whose members are intelligence, secret service, police, and army officials charged with advising the government in times of emergency.

These astounding credentials have turned Kemp into something of a war hero, and his book depicting the UK under terror attack, ‘Attack State Red’, was an instant bestseller. He prefers to keep the location of his London office secret, in order to avoid attempts on his life.

But in Israel the colonel remained little known until January 2009, when a video clip showing him defending Israel during an interview with the BBC was posted on YouTube.

Kemp explained to his interlocutor that Israel had no choice but to engage Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, and stressed that the actions the IDF was taking in order to avoid civilian casualties were exceptional, especially because Hamas fighters had been trained by Hezbollah and Iran to fight from within a civilian population.

Later he also defended Israel’s reputation during a testimony before the Goldstone committee, which investigated the Gaza offensive, taking aim at the international community for heaping criticism on the state.

‘Report based on unreliable testimonies’

On Tuesday Kemp arrived in Israel to take part in the 10th conference of the IDC’s International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, where he delivered two lectures on the threat of al-Qaeda. Some of his experiences in the Holy Land have already been shared on Twitter, including a tweet saying that the beauty of swimming in the sea in Israel is that you don’t have to wait long to see an Apache flying low over the coastline.

“The main problem with the Goldstone report was and remains the fact that most of the claims in it are unfounded,” Kemp said on the report’s one-year anniversary.

“Judge Goldstone admitted it himself. It is based mainly on interviews committee members held with residents of Gaza, and not on the investigation of the wider context and the claims made by both sides. I don’t think the Palestinian witnesses are lying, but at least a few testified and spoke as they believe the Hamas government would want them to, so their claims must be treated carefully. We’re talking about a report that has no real credible foundation, based on unreliable testimonies.”

When asked whether it was true that the report was biased because of the political views of the committee’s members, Kemp answered that though it may not provide a substantial space for Israel’s claims, “it’s important to remember that it was the Israeli government’s decision not to cooperate with the committee”.

But the report is perhaps more offensive, he says, because it significantly harms the abilities of Western states to defend themselves against terror. “In a roundabout way the report gives legitimacy to tactics used by terror organizations all over the world, and legitimizes their ability to hide behind civilians. In this way it turns any action by Israel in its war against such terrorists into an illegitimate act, and indirectly encourages the prolongation of this tactic,” Kemp said.

Terror organizations, he added, are aware of global criticism against the deaths of innocent people and purposefully attract forces to civilian centers, schools, and holy places. “Just this week, in southern Afghanistan, a group of Taliban operatives attacked British forces from a mosque,” he said, a tactic also used by Hezbollah and Hamas.

The bottom line, Kemp insists, is that if Western states adopt the conclusions of the Goldstone report they will be left with no “realistic way” to act against terror anywhere in the world, Afghanistan included.

‘Int’l law must be adapted to reality’

In general, he added, democracy and its laws make it very difficult to fight terror. “In Britain, for example, we know of figures involved in terror but we can’t do anything against them because of human rights laws,” Kemp says.

“For example, there is an Egyptian imam we know is involved in terror, but you can’t deport him because he will be executed there. Guantanamo is a similar story. The world condemns it but what can you do with terror suspects? You can’t treat them like prisoners of war

“The war is with organizations such as the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hamas in Gaza, who not only do not respect international law in the battlefield but also use it for evil. Laws need to be adapted to reality. Unfortunately the public is of the opposite opinion because of short memory spans, but people will change their minds again after the next attack.”

When asked how he would compare Western countries’ operations in Afghanistan and Iraq to the IDF’s operations in the Palestinian territories, Kemp answered, “First of all, I have never been to Gaza. My assessment is based on what I read and see in the publications on both sides and the global press, and of course 30 years of participation in the war on terror.”

Kemp said IDF forces took extraordinary measures to bring down to a minimum the number of civilian casualties during Cast Lead, but that they could not be entirely prevented during war. “In this sense there is no difference between the IDF’s operations in the territories and the US and British armies’ operations in Afghanistan. The political context is of course totally different but the situation on the ground is the same,” he added.

‘Automatic condemnations a joke’

When asked why, then, he thought Israel’s actions are criticized at every turn while Britain and the US are not, Kemp answered that prejudice against Israel was often at play.

“In certain international circles there is sometimes the automatic assumption that everything the IDF does is illegal. There is harsh criticism against the US and British armies as well, but they are given the benefit of the doubt. Israel is always automatically condemned, no matter what. It’s a joke,” he said.

“Even the conspiracy theory that the one responsible for the September 11 attacks is not al-Qaeda but Israel refuses to die out. It’s unbelievable. Only yesterday I was interviewed by a Spanish radio station and asked about it. I explain that it isn’t possible, and that al-Qaeda had claimed responsibility for it a long time ago, but it doesn’t help.”

Kemp is also well-acquainted with Israeli intelligence from past cooperation, and has visited the country many times as part of his COBRA function. “The cooperation between our two intelligence agencies was successful and continues today. We are dealing with similar threats so it would be foolish of us not to cooperate,” he said.

“On the day of the 2005 London attacks the first call I received was from the CIA, and the second was from the Mossad: ‘Anything you need, just say the word.’ It’s the close cooperation and affinity between Britain, the US, and Israel. There are also other states of course, but I will always remember that the second call was from Israel. In such a situation it’s good to know you have friends.”

Kemp also relied on Israeli expertise when he accepted the command of the British forces in Afghanistan. “I had no experience dealing with suicide bombers,” he said. “After speaking with officials in our army I was not satisfied, so I called someone in the Israeli embassy and explained that I needed advice.

“The next day a senior officer from the IDF arrived on a special flight from Tel Aviv. He’s considered an expert in the field of warfare against suicide bombers, and he sat with me for four hours and told me everything he knew that he thought could help us in Afghanistan. I just sat there and took notes.”

Benjamin Tovias contributed to this report

Why Israelis care about peace

September 18, 2010

Given our experience of disappointment and trauma, it’s astonishing that Israelis still support the peace process at all. Yet we do, and by an overwhelming majority

Imagine that you’re a parent who sends her children off to school in the morning worrying whether their bus will become a target of suicide bombers. Imagine that, instead of going off to college, your children become soldiers at age 18, serve for three years and remain in the active reserves into their 40s. Imagine that you have fought in several wars, as have your parents and even your grandparents, that you’ve seen rockets raining down on your neighborhood and have lost close family and friends to terrorist attacks. Picture all of that and you’ll begin to understand what it is to be an Israeli. And you’ll know why all Israelis desperately want peace.

Recent media reports, in Time magazine and elsewhere, have alleged that Israelis — who are currently experiencing economic growth and a relative lull in terrorism — may not care about peace. According to a poll cited, Israelis are more concerned about education, crime and poverty — issues that resonate with Americans — than about the peace process with the Palestinians. But such findings do not in any way indicate an indifference to peace, but rather the determination of Israelis to build normal, fruitful lives in the face of incredible adversity.

Yes, many Israelis are skeptical about peace, and who wouldn’t be? We withdrew our troops from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip in order to generate peace, and instead received thousands of missiles crashing into our homes. We negotiated with the Palestinians for 17 years and twice offered them an independent state, only to have those offers rejected. Over the last decade, we saw more than 1,000 Israelis — proportionally the equivalent of about 43,000 Americans — killed by suicide bombers, and tens of thousands maimed. We watched bereaved mothers on Israeli television urging our leaders to persist in their peace efforts, while Palestinian mothers praised their martyred children and wished to sacrifice others for jihad.


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Given our experience of disappointment and trauma, it’s astonishing that Israelis still support the peace process at all. Yet we do, and by an overwhelming majority. According to the prestigious Peace Index conducted by the Tamal Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University and released in July, more than 70% of Israelis back negotiations with the Palestinians, and nearly that number endorse the two-state solution. These percentages exist even though multiple Palestinian polls show much less enthusiasm for living side by side in peace with Israel, or that most Israelis believe that international criticism of the Jewish state will continue even if peace is achieved.

Indeed, Israelis have always grasped at opportunities for peace. When Arab leaders such as Egyptian President Anwar Sadat or King Hussein of Jordan offered genuine peace to Israel, our people passionately responded and even made painful concessions. That most Israelis are still willing to take incalculable risks for peace — the proposed Palestinian state would border their biggest cities — and are still willing to share their ancestral homeland with a people that has repeatedly tried to destroy them is nothing short of miraculous.

It’s true that Israel is a success story. The country has six world-class universities, more scientific papers and Nobel Prizes per capita than any other nation and the most advanced high-tech sector outside of Silicon Valley. The economy is flourishing, tourism is at an all-time high and our citizen army selflessly protects our borders. In the face of unrelenting pressures, we have preserved a democratic system in which both Jews and Arabs can serve in our parliament and sit on our Supreme Court. We have accomplished this without knowing a nanosecond of peace.

We shouldn’t have to apologize for our achievements. Nor should outside observers conclude that the great improvements in our society in any way lessen our deep desire for peace. That yearning was expressed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the recent White House ceremony for the start of direct negotiations with the Palestinians. Addressing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as “my partner in peace,” Netanyahu called for “a peace that will last for generations — our generation, our children’s generation and the next.”

For Israelis who don’t have to imagine what it’s like to live in a perpetual war zone, that vision of peace is our lifeline.

Michael B. Oren is Israel’s ambassador to the United States.

Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times